More adults are seeking orthodontic treatment than ever before. According to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), one in four orthodontic patients is an adult.
Adults seek orthodontic treatment for various reasons. For those who had braces as teens, teeth may have shifted back to their original positions. Others may be addressing crooked teeth or bite issues for the first time. Still, others want to boost their self-esteem with a new smile.
Regardless of the reason, adults are seeking orthodontic treatment in record numbers. However, orthodontic treatment for adults does differ from braces for teenagers or children’s braces. Luckily, Burke & Redford Orthodontists have been treating patients of all ages in Temecula, Lake Elsinore, and Riverside County since 1991.
In this article, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about orthodontic treatment for adults.
How Does Orthodontic Treatment Differ for Adults?
In some ways, treatment is similar. Adults can wear braces or Invisalign just like younger patients. However, there are some differences due to age-related issues.
For example, adult jaws are fully developed and no longer growing. In children and teens, the jaw is still developing, which means orthodontists can modify jaw sizes and/or relationships using palatal expanders and other devices. Because this isn’t possible in adults, treatment may require more intensive interventions (such as extractions or surgery) or longer treatment times.
Another issue is that adults often have more complicated dental histories than younger patients. Many adults also have fillings, crowns, veneers, bridges, and implants that must be considered when developing the orthodontic treatment plan. The good news is that orthodontic treatment is still possible but may be more complicated. Coordinating treatment with a patient’s dentist or periodontist is sometimes needed to help treatment progress smoothly.
Gum disease is another issue that must be addressed before starting orthodontic treatment. Adults with gingivitis or periodontitis must treat these conditions before beginning orthodontic treatment. This is because braces or aligners may damage the supporting structures of the teeth if gum disease is left untreated.
How Does Orthodontic Treatment Benefit Adults?
For many adults, the health benefits of orthodontic treatment are significant. Over time, malocclusions (“bad bites”) can cause discomfort and uneven wear on the biting surfaces of teeth. Fixing bite issues can alleviate these problems.
Overcrowding or crooked teeth can be difficult to clean properly, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. After braces or Invisalign, teeth and gums will be easier to clean, which will result in fewer dental issues.
The psychological benefits also cannot be discounted. Adults who receive orthodontic treatment often report a boost to their self-confidence. Other benefits include improved facial structure and a more attractive smile. Some patients report looking and feeling more youthful after treatment.
Numerous studies have revealed that people with attractive smiles are more likely to get hired for a job, be promoted, or experience dating success. A 2011 study in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics revealed that adults with bite issues are “at a social disadvantage and professionally handicapped.”
What Options Are Available for Adult Orthodontic Treatment?
Traditional metal braces are no longer the only option when it comes to adult orthodontic treatment. Today, adults can choose from less conspicuous options.
- Invisalign—which uses a series of clear aligners to correct issues—is quite popular among adults because they are discreet, virtually invisible, and can be removed for eating and drinking. Many Hollywood stars have used Invisalign while in the public eye. Invisalign is best suited for correcting relatively minor orthodontic issues and may not be the best option for everyone.
- Ceramic braces or Damon Braces—often called “clear braces”—are a popular option for adults who have ruled out clear aligners as an option for treatment. Made of tooth-colored ceramic and using light-colored wires, these braces are much less noticeable than metal braces. Some patients choose to have ceramic braces on their top teeth and metal braces on the less visible bottom teeth.
- Lingual braces are placed on the back of the teeth and are not visible when smiling. The downside is that these braces are more difficult to clean, may feel more uncomfortable to the tongue and while speaking, and usually require longer treatment time.
Does Dental Insurance Cover Adult Orthodontics?
The benefit of seeking orthodontic treatment as an adult is being in a better financial position to cover the costs. Many dental insurance plans cover part of the cost. Another option is to use flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to help cover expenses.
Burke & Redford Orthodontists will contact a patient’s insurance plan to determine what coverage is available. We also offer flexible, zero-interest payment plans. Our commitment to providing beautiful smiles means we will work with each patient to find a payment plan that fits their needs. Call us at (951) 699-8011 to schedule a free orthodontic consultation during business hours, or fill out the form anytime on our website.